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September 28, 2016 7:09 pm

New York Times ‘Stealth Edits’ Peres Obituary Post-Publication

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Israeli President Shimon Peres. Photo: World Economic Forum.

Israeli President Shimon Peres. Photo: World Economic Forum.

The New York Times obituary of Israeli politician Shimon Peres is the latest venue for the newspaper to put its anti-Israel bias and sloppy editing on display.

The bad journalism is apparent nearly from the start of the article.

The Times writes that Peres “was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders.”

Then, a paragraph later, the Times writes, “Peres ended his years in public office as a remarkably beloved figure,” quoting Peres remarking, “suddenly I’m the most popular man in the land.”

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So which is it? Was Peres “orphaned” by Israelis who “lost interest” in peace? Or was Peres “beloved and popular”? If it’s possible for both these descriptions to be accurate simultaneously, the Times doesn’t explain how.

The internal contradictions and lack of clarity continue through the rest of the piece.

Even the Times editors acknowledged as much by changing the piece after it was published.

The original version of the obituary, the one that appeared in print editions of the paper, said:

Mr. Peres, Mr. Rabin and Arafat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

But the era of good feelings did not last. It was shattered in 2000 after a visit by the opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the sacred plaza in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The next day, the Israeli police fired on stone-throwing protesters, inaugurating a new round of violence that became known as the second intifada.

This is laughably inaccurate — as if Israel-Arab relations had been all pleasantness and perfection for six years until Sharon ruined everything by visiting the Temple Mount.

As the website Newsdiffs caught, the Times repaired the online version of the story, so it now reads:

Mr. Peres, Mr. Rabin and Arafat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

But the era of good feelings did not last. Barely a year later, Mr. Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish gunman upset by the accords; the death elevated Mr. Peres to the post of prime minister. But a series of Palestinian suicide bombings undercut Mr. Peres’s authority, and he lost a narrow election to Mr. Netanyahu in 1996.

That’s a little better, though it suggests inaccurately that the “era of good feelings” was ruined by Rabin’s assassination in 1995 rather than by the series of Palestinian terrorist attacks that preceded the assassination.

Much lower down, the article reports, “But a series of terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Mr. Peres’s decision to mount an offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon — during which scores of Lebanese refugees sheltering at a United Nations base in Qana died in an Israeli artillery barrage — led to ill feelings in Israel and the surprise victory by Mr. Netanyahu of Likud.”

That, too, puts the lie to the original Times narrative that it was Sharon’s trip to the Temple Mount that “shattered” the “era of good feelings.”

A recent column by the New York Times public editor faulted the newspaper for what she called “stealth editing,” in which stories are changed online midstream without a published correction.

This particular editing change is an example of why such stealth editing is bad. Without a correction, print readers of the Times will have little idea that Times editors went in post-publication and attempted to repair problems with the obituary.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.  

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  • Pearl Belkowitz

    The rag sheet does it again!

  • watsa46

    Every day passing, the NYT becomes closer to the Goebbels News Media! For the left, anything in America is on SALE!

  • rulierose

    I don’t know why this surprises me, since the NYT has been so consistently and blatantly anti-Israel for so long. after the “Jew Tracker” and the “c’mon, was there ever REALLY a temple in this ‘Temple Mount’ place?” articles, I really should have known better.